EntrepreNERD in the Big Picture

You’ve heard me talk about EntrepreNERD.

Maybe you attended EntrepreNERD, Episode IV: A New Summit.

Maybe you’re planning to attend EntrepreNERD, Episode V: The Summit Strikes Back, on September 19th.

Maybe you’re going to apply to be a speaker at EntrepreNERD before the deadline next Monday.

You may be wondering if this event fits into a larger plan or if it is this summit another of the ADHD squirrels I chase around in my business?

The answer is yes. Definitely.

But sometimes those squirrels line up and run information. (It’s amazing to watch.)

Long before I was a coach or a networker or a Networking Concierge, I was a geek. I was first on staff at a sci fi convention at the age of 16. I opened a game store right out of college. One of the first things I did when Pandemic times began was to start a D&D game on Zoom.

Geek.

So, when a conversation at a virtual networking event turned to the fact that so many entrepreneurs are geeks and that there would be much interest in a geek flavored entrepreneurial event, I was all over it.

And by all over it, I mean that I put it on a shelf for a year waiting for the tools and time to arrive to run it. Twelve short months later, EntrepreNERD was born!

Then, completely separately, I had the idea to share the amazing stories of successful neurodiverse people throught the Neurodiversity Superpowers Podcast and then to support that audience with the Superpowers Mastermind.

EnterpreNERD and Neurodiversity Superpowers were two completely separate things run by the same guy. Then it hit me, a great many of the geeky people I know are neurodiverse and a great many of the neurodiverse people I know are geeky, and many of both of entrepreneurs.

That was my Reeses Peanut Butter Cup moment, without the creepy shopkeeper.

The podcast will be promoting the summit. The summit will be promoting the mastermind. And through it all we’ll be supporting geeky, awesome, inspiring, and inspired entrepreneurs like you.

Great story, Michael. What should I do now?

First, you should subscribe and listen to the Neurodiversity Superpowers Podcast.
(Link for Apple Podcasts) (Link for Google Podcasts)

Second, you should either register to attend EntrepreNERD or apply to be a speaker at EntrepreNERD.

I Failed at Everything for 21 Years Until…

“Do you realize that I have failed at everything I have ever tried?” I asked my wife.

It was 2019, and we were once again trying to figure out how we were going to pay the bills. While she was working her butt off in property management bringing in 2/3 of our income, my work as a magazine publisher was continuing to fall short of expectations.

In 1998, I joined Vector Marketing selling Cutco, and failed to make money. Failed to make my game store profitable. Car sales. Financial advising. Insurance sales. Print sales. More car sales. Startup marketing manager. And finally magazine publishing. Fail. Fail. Fail.

All failed to make anywhere near what I should have been able to make.

I did pretty well selling Volkswagens in 2013 until I got fired (a story for another day).

1998 to 2019, an unbroken string of financial failures.

What changed?

When the Pandemic hit in 2020, and took my magazine publishing business from struggling to untenable, I found myself in a position where continuing would mean learning a whole new business model from scratch. The company was building it from the ground up, and I’d be figuring it out with them.

If I’m going to have to figure it out, I might as well figure out my own thing and see where it takes me.

That fateful decision, fully consumated when I quit BVM in October of 2020, would change everything.

I had failed because I had tried to follow the “safe” course. I tried to follow the “proper” course.

In actuality, I was following the misaligned course. I was following someone else’s safe and proper course.

Dan Mangena talks about the importance of alignment in his MoneyDNA workshop. Many other coaches talk about it as well.

Even once I decided to become an entrepreneur, I was still trying to follow other people’s playbooks. I tried to become a coach because it’s what I saw other people doing.

I tried to create courses, funnels, and all the other strategies I saw other people following.

It was only in November of 2021 when Phil Pelucha said something that would change my professional trajectory that I discovered where I would find alignment.

I understood the basic marketing concept and how to get people into a funnel, community, audience, etc. The thing is that this doesn’t work without the engine of some kind of offer. It doesn’t matter if the whole world loves you if there’s no way for them to pay you. You’ll be a much beloved Uber driver, as I was in 2021. I was trying to find that offer, that product that contained the value I could offer.

“You know, Michael, some people get paid to make introductions,” Phil said.

He explained that some charge a retainer. Some charge per intro. Some get commissions.

The clouds parted. The angels sang. I knew what I could offer the world that had value!

This would become my Networking Concierge program in which I charge a relatively modest retainer for my clients to go onto the White Board of Clients where they would be introduced to the best and most ideal of the dozens of people I meet every week. This program became a six-figure business in six months.

What happened? I found my superpower! I found the unique form of greatness I could share with the world.

My ADHD led me to have difficulty getting a normal job. It made it hard to focus in the way needed to be successful in sales.

It also led me be seeking new experiences, new people, new connections, new knowledge.

Following my own path, I met over 2,000 entrepreneurs in a year. I learned all kinds of things about the world of business.

The same ADHD that caused all those failures, also led to my greatest success once I embraced the superpower side of it.

This is why I’m launching the Neurodiversity Superpowers Podcast.

What would have happened if I’d learned my ADHD contained superpowers and how to master them 20 years ago? What would my life be like today?

I can’t go back in time, but maybe I can share what I, and many others, have learned with those coming up behind us.

The podcast celebrates the stories of people who have found their neurodiverse superpowers with the mission of helping more people find their own superpowers and achieving success now rather than 20 years from now.

Sound interesting? Take a listen!

Want to go a little deeper? I’m also launching a Neurodiversity Superpowers Mastermind, and we’re offering a free beta session Thursday, August 25th at 4 PM Eastern.

You can register free here.

Business Advice From the Pulpit

Most days I send out a letter by email with some tips and resources. This is the one from July 19th, 2022.

This past Sunday, I went to church as I often do on Sundays, and I was surprised to find that the lectionary reading echoed something that I’ve been saying on my Morning Motivation podcast for a while now.

I talk a lot about how everyone has been given particular talents and passions. By pursuing those gifts, one will find purpose, joy, meaning, and, quite likely, financial success.

Check this out:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

In terms of Godly gifts and service to a congregation, it says basically the same thing. Everyone has been given unique gifts.

It goes on to explain that all those gifts are important and need to be appreciated because, like body parts, each member of the church brings something different.

This isn’t about religion or believing in God. It’s about the fact that this idea that everyone has their own unique gifts goes back thousands of years.
(But if you do believe in the Bible, that gives it a bit more weight.)

It’s the same for a company, a community, a family, or an entire economy.

Everyone is given particular gifts, and if one does not share those gifts, then everyone suffers.

If someone is meant to be a tramua coach but languishes in minimum wage fast food work, then there are people who need their help who don’t get it.
If someone is meant to be an artist but works a deadend office job, then the world is poorer.
If someone is meant to be a one-on-one coach but spends all their energy building courses because that’s how they’re told to make money, the people who need them miss them.

What is your gift?
Are you embracing it?
Are you sharing it with the world?
Or are you making excuses for why it can’t be shared?

If you’re still trying to figure it out, or you know someone who is, I encourage you to invite them to my “How the heck does anyone make a living in 2022?” workshop on August 3rd at 6 PM Eastern.

-Michael Whitehouse
​​​​​​​The Guy Who Knows a Guy

How I Guard My Time Without Saying No

Last year, I reached out to an author of some note to ask to have a call to see what collaboration opportunities might exist.

The reply was not unexpected or unreasonable. The author replied that they didn’t have the capacity in their schedule for those kinds of speculative “let’s see what we can do for each other calls.”

I can completely understand it. Many of those calls are not terribly valuable. (My Networking Concierge clients hire me to filter the people they meet so that they only have the valuable calls.)

At that point, I was seeing that my schedule was rapidly heading in that direction as well. The thing is that for me I wanted another option besides saying no. While a majority of the random reachouts might not be valuable opportunities, a goodly portion of them might be quite valuable, and there is no way to know from that initial contact who will be a nice chat and who will be a connection into an entirely new community that could be worth millions.

I needed a way to say yes to everyone who wanted to meet with me without working 90 hours a week.

A similar problem was developing with my podcast. So many great people wanted to come on the show that I was backed up with interviews. And with the podcast, every interview then required more time for post production (and if you have been interviewed and not seen your episode yet, it’s somewhere in that post production queue.)

The solution to the podcast, you may have seen. It’s call the Power Lunch Live Show.
(You can apply to be on the show here)

I created a show where I would bring on four guests on a variety of topics. I get all kinds of compliments on how unique and engaging the show is.

You’d never know that the initial intentions on creating the show were to create something that would make great conversations with the least amount of work. I wanted a show where I’d almost never have to reject a guest, where almost no effort went into pre- or post-production, and where I could just show up, host, and go.

What would have been 6 hours of recording and post production is now 60 minutes of show (plus about 12 minutes of prep per week).

For one to ones, I created the Open Virtual Coffee every Friday at 10 AM Eastern. Anyone can drop in with this link.

Sometimes there’s no one there. Sometimes one person. Sometimes three or four.

With the Open Virtual Coffee, I never have to say “no, I don’t have time to meet” or even “why should we meet?” Anyone who approaches me or who is introduced, I can invite to the Open Virtual Coffee, get to know them and explore if we need to talk more without swamping the schedule.

The latest innovation, developed in early July when I looked at my calendar and saw that, once again, I didn’t have an opening until mid August, is the Connection Bonanza.

Many people who want to talk to me really just want to tap my network. I’m totally cool with that. My clients hire me to make connections, and I never know who might be a perfect fit for them.

A Connection Bonanza is a one hour call when I welcome up to 9 people. Each one will share a bit about themselves and what connections they are seeking. I’ll make between 0 and 3 introductions for them (plus they might make some connections with other people in the room). It’s like speed networking with The Guy Who Knows a Guy.

The next one, by the way, is today at 3 PM Eastern. You can access the Open Virtual Coffees and Connections Bonanza’s at this handy Meet the Guy Who Knows a Guy Page.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, first, it’s because I’d be happy for you to take advantage of any of these ways to connect with me.

But mainly, I’m sharing because I talk to a lot of people who are running into the time crunch, and when I share these ideas, people tell me that they are very interesting and creative.

I’d love to hear what some of the creative solutions that you have come up with for the bottlenecks in your business and life as you grow. Comment below and let me know.

Don’t Talk Past the Close

Most days I send out a letter by email with some tips and resources. This is the one from July 18th, 2022.

Don’t talk past the close.

I learned it when I did sales, and I saw the other side of it the other day as a networker.

I was at a networking event, and there was a woman there who was a graphic designer. She collaborates with various people around the marketing space. How many people do you think I know in the marketing space? A lot. The answer is a lot.

So, I’m thinking that I can make a lot of connections for her, but she only has her first name on the Zoom screen and hasn’t given me her contact info.

I mention that I know quite a few people I can connect her to. I just need her last name and email.

What would you do at this moment? A professional connector who people pay to make introductions just said, “I have connections for you. What’s your last name and email?”

Would you…
A) Stop talking and put your full name and email in the chat
B) Keep talking
C) Keep talking, emphasize that you mostly want people who will refer to you because you have plenty of people to refer to already

If you wanted more introductions, the right answer is A.
If you wanted less, go for B or C.

Whether it’s sales or networking or anything else, when you are offered the thing you are looking for, stop talking and say yes.

Don’t talk yourself out of introductions.

Want more business tips? I talk about this kind of stuff many times a week on the Power5 Podcast.

-Michael Whitehouse
The Guy Who Knows a Guy

I’d Rather Be 42 Than 22

I’ve been 42, and I’ve been 22.

I like 42 better.

I don’t believe in that “age is just a number” junk. Age is a very real thing. The 40s is a particular phase of life. Different people with different experiences may come into different phases at different times, but this mid-life time is definitely a thing.

When I was 22 I launched Phoenix Games, and I didn’t have the vaugest idea what I was doing. Over the next 6 years, I would turn over $100,000 into vapor, and I would ruin countless relationships because I was young and dumb.

I had a lot in my 20s, and I didn’t appreciate most of it.

I was living a pretty good life, but I spent most of my time worrying about losing it.

I was worried that this phase, the game store and other enterprises, would be the only vehicle for success I would have. If it failed I’d be washed up.

Young. And. Dumb.

Today, at 42, my life is like nothing I could have imagined 20 years ago. Owning a house. Married to an amazing woman and raising a daughter. Planning speaking gigs in three countries, clients in four countries, and contacts on six continents.

But all that is not why I would chose my 40s over my 20s. The biggest difference between 20 year old Michael and 40 year old Michael is perspective.

I don’t fear what will come next. I could lose it all in any number of ways. Accident, illness, business failure, legal issues, who knows?

But I don’t worry about it. I have come to learn that the Universe will unfold as it should, and that the best moment of your life is the one you are living now.

32 was better than 22. 42 is better than 32. I can only assume that 52 will be amazing.

Want more messages like this? Why not subscribe. I send them out all the time.

Networking Asks like a NINJA

Networking is about giving, but part of that is help others to give to you. That is what the networking ask is all about.

In this article, I discussed the 5 levels of NINJA Networking. Now, let’s look at how these five levels respond to the question “Whom can I introduce you to?”

“Give without expectation. Receive without resistance.” This is one of the axioms I follow in life and business. A good networker wants to help those that they meet, so they will ask how they can help. Your answer is crucial to allowing them to give to you.

All five of these levels may apply to any networker. Even the karate master may still employ the simple straight punch he learned in his first day of training. The point is to expand your mindset and range of thinking as you move to higher levels of NINJA Networking.

To get some example responses, I’m going to share how a lead generation guy might answer the question at the five different levels.

Summary of Five Levels of Networking Asks

Level 1: Networking – Prospecting in the Room
“I’m just looking to get out and meet anyone I can. How are you generating leads for your business?”

Level 2: Introduction – Prospecting through the Room
I’m looking to meet entrepreneurs who need more leads for their business.”

Level 3: Non-Competitive Partners – Growing Your Network
“I’m looking to meet people who have audiences of entrepreneurs who need more leads.”

Level 4: Joint Ventures – Collaboration
“I’m looking for opportunities to partner such as summit stages, podcasts, and other lead gen folks I can do a joint webinar with.”

Level 5: Affiliates – Systematized Partnership
“I’m looking for people with an audience of entrepreneurs for webinar swaps, to promote my launch, and whose launch I can promote.”

Level 1: Networking – Prospecting in the Room

“I’m just looking to get out and meet anyone I can. How are you generating leads for your business?”

At Level 1, a networker is looking for prospects among the people they are speaking to directly. They may not actually have a clear idea of who their avatar is, or they don’t know how to ask for it.

There is nothing wrong with doing this as long as it does not come across as pushy or salesy.

I call this network prospecting, and I made great use of it back when I published local magazines. 75% of my business came from this kind of prospecting.

This can be very effective for networkers who do not know how to ask for introductions, and it is also an excellent strategy for someone who finds themselves in a room with inexperienced networkers who do not know how to give introductions.

It is very difficult to reciprocate at this level. They may ask you what you do, but they are simply comparing it to their own needs. It is unlikely they need to buy what you are selling, and that would be the end of it at this level.

The limitation of this strategy is that if you are focused on the immediate sale, then you will not get invited to the higher impact networking communities. This kind of thing is not done in my exclusive TEN Group that I run for elite networkers, and I would not invite someone who approached me this way to that group.

The danger is that you don’t know what you don’t know. If you approached me at level 1, we’d have a pleasant conversation. I might even become a client, but I wouldn’t event mention the TEN Group. You might think it was a highly successful encounter because you didn’t realize the opportunity you missed.

The great thing about this level is that it’s really easy to measure quantitatively. You can track what leads came from what events, and double down in those communities. The tradeoff is that you don’t know what you are missing out on in terms of building your network through the people you are meeting.

Level 2: Introduction – Prospecting through the Room

“I’m looking to meet entrepreneurs who need more leads for their business.”

At this level, we’re not trying to sell the person in front of us. We are seeking to connect with their network.

This is the level that most groups like BNI, AmSpirit, and Success Champions Network operate at. You are aiming to sell through the room rather than to the room. This works because the people in the room are non-competitive partners with whom you are building a relationship.

BNI has a concept of The Referral Confidence Curve. It describes the way that you grow in trust and credibility with your networking partners as you build your relationship.

At this level, it is important to understand who your ideal customer is so that you can educate your networking partners on how they can help you.

This tends to work better in structured networking groups than open networking groups. If I meet you for the first time at a networking event, and you’re asking me to refer clients to you, it is unlikely I’ll do so. I don’t know you. I don’t trust you. And as a super connector, I know a dozen other people who do what you do whom I know better.

This works fantastically well in those structured groups because you do get to know people over time.

This level of networking is also quite quantitatively trackable. The introductions go directly to prospects. You can track how many introductions you get to good prospects and which of those become sales. BNI has a very robust tracking system to determine the value of membership.

Like Level 1, however, you are still not gaining access to the real font of value that is your network’s network.

Level 3: Non-Competitive Partners – Growing Your Network

“I’m looking to meet people who have audiences of entrepreneurs who need more leads.”

This is a most powerful form of networking ask you can make without needing additional infrastructure and capability in your business.

You are no longer asking to meet customers. You are asking for introductions you can build mutually beneficial relationships with.

While it is very difficult to introduce someone I just met to a prospect, I’ll make introductions to non-competitive partners all day long. People aren’t so keen to get an introduction to someone who’s going to sell them, so I’m very cautious about that. People love to meet potential partners, so I can do this much more freely.

This is the level where you can shift from arithmetic growth to geometric growth. At Level 1, each contact is worth less than one. At level 2, each contact may be worth one to two. At this level, one contact can lead to an infinite series of connections as one introductions leads to another ad infinitem.

A Level 3 NINJA Networker can no longer quantitively measure our networking effectiveness. Measurements must now be qualitative.

When I operated at Level 1, I determined that one local Chamber of Commerce generated more sales for me than the others, so I made sure go to their events.

I was operating at Level 3 when I attended a high impact virtual networking event in April of 2021. While I came out of the event with 45 meetings on my calendar, they were not sales calls. They were connections to a higher level of entrepreneur who have given me incredible knowledge, access, and resources. By October, I could still not trace a single dollar of revenue to this event, but as I write this today, a year later, I can credit 80% of my current revenues to connections and concepts that came from that event.

Had I measured it quantitatively, I would have called it a failure, and that would be incorrect.

At Level 3, the value of an event or a connection may come weeks or months later. It may come from an introduction to an introduction to an introduction.

Moving from Level 2 to Level 3 is a mindset shift, and doing so will shift your business and your networking.

Level 4: Joint Ventures – Collaboration

“I’m looking for opportunities to partner such as summit stages, podcasts, and other lead gen folks I can do a joint webinar with.”

Referral partners are good. Joint venture partners are better.

At Level 4, you are shifting your thinking from individual referrals to audiences.

A referral partner is someone who keeps you in mind and refers people to you as the opportunity presents itself. In some cases, such as a Realtor referring clients to a mortgage originator, there is a natural flow of clients. The source of clients is the existing flow of connections that the referring partner has.

A joint venture is about creating a new stream of connections.

There are dozens of ways a joint venture can be created, and you may be participating in joint ventures without realizing it. An interview podcast is a joint venture. Guest provides content. Host provides audience. Guest promotes to their community to grow host’s audience.

Joint webinars, summits, collaborative books, social media joint live broadcasts, guest appearances in a program. These are just a few ways you might joint venture with someone.

Rather than a referral partner introducing you to individual people, you are seeking to connect with audiences. At this level, the introductions you want are not to people you could sell to, or even to people who can refer you people to sell to. You want contacts who can introduce you to entire audiences of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people.

Level 5: Affiliates – Systematized Partnership

“I’m looking for people with an audience of entrepreneurs for webinar swaps, to promote my launch, and whose launch I can promote.”

Most joint ventures you encounter are one offs, and each partnership is separately negotiated.

At Level 5, a NINJA Networker has turnkey joint ventures. There’s no negotiated needed because it’s off the shelf.

Some simple examples of this are speaker summits and podcasts. In these, you don’t normally negotiate details. There is some process to get on the summit or podcast. The speaker is told what is expected, and they will either find it acceptable or not participate.

More complex examples of this are launches, workshops, and webinar swaps. These tend to require more infrastructure on the part of the one being promoted, but because of this infrastructure, a promoter can sign up and participate.

For example, if you would like to promote a launch, you sign up. They send you swipe copy, instructions on what to do when, and you do it. Then you get paid for sales you create through your list.

When two Level 5 NINJA Networkers meet, the only complexity is figuring out how to match up marketing calendars. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of “my people will send the materials to your people,” and they’re off to the races.

Five Levels of Networking Asks

Just like the black belt martial artist doesn’t forget the basic strikes and blocks when they achieve the highest level, a NINJA networker will always employ tactics from all levels. Even an entrepreneur with a robust launch process and high converting webinar will still happily someone up if the need shows up in conversation.

The key difference is how you approach people you meet. Are you sizing them up to be a client? Are you seeking a referral partner? Do you want a promotional partner?

How you engage in the conversation will lead to different results and will make different impressions.


Michael Whitehouse is The Guy Who Knows a Guy. He has developed the NINJA Networking framework over more than a decade of networking from the lowest levels to the highest.

Do the five levels of NINJA Networking intrigue you? Get on a call with Michael. Click here to schedule a call.

Five Steps to Learn the Secrets of NINJA Networking

Networking, Introductions, Non-Competitive Partners, Joint Ventures, Affiliates.

Those are the five stages of Ninja Networking mastery, and they just so happen to spell NINJA.

Actually, it’s not a coincidence. Realizing that “networking” and “ninja” started with the same letter, I decided to see if I could make a cool ninja networking acronym. And I did.

Then, I realized that it not only spelled a super cool word, but that it did it in the order that most people follow on this journey.

It was meant to be!

In this article, I’m going to do a quick overview of the five stages, and in future articles I’ll dive deeper into each area. If you find this interesting, and would like to come on a journey with me to learn the secrets of the Ninja Networker, I encourage you to join my Ninja Networking program.

Continue reading “Five Steps to Learn the Secrets of NINJA Networking”